Mobilizing Diverse Stakeholders to Remove Derelict Fishing Gear from Beaches & Bay
The Center for Coastal Studies, located in Provincetown, Massachusetts, mobilized volunteers to identify, document, and properly dispose of derelict fishing gear from Cape Cod Bay and the Cape Cod National Seashore.
Type of Project: Community-based Marine Debris Removal Grant
Project Dates: August 2018 - January 2020
Who is involved?
With the support of a NOAA MDP Community-based Marine Debris Removal Grant, the Center for Coastal Studies, located in Provincetown, Massachusetts mobilized volunteers to identify, document, and properly dispose of derelict fishing gear from Cape Cod Bay and the Cape Cod National Seashore. Volunteers included commercial and recreational fishers, middle school students, the Environmental Police, private and municipal solid waste disposal providers, surfers, and other coastal interest groups.
What is the project and why is it important?
The New England Lobster fishery uses fixed gear made of vinyl-coated wire or wood-wire combination traps and synthetic lines. In 2016, more than 1,200 permits were granted to trap lobster in Massachusetts waters. The greatest density of gear in Cape Cod Bay and the outer shore occurs August through October, when an average of 25,000 traps are set by approximately 75 permit holders. Storm action, propellers, interaction with mobile fishing gear, chafed groundlines and gear conflict are some of the ways traps can be lost, severing the buoy from the tether line, parting groundlines, or dragging gear into deeper water so that the buoy is submerged and untraceable. These lost traps may cause navigation hazards, damage the environment, or continue to fish for both target and non-target species.
This project facilitated a community approach to clearing the shore of derelict fishing gear. Fishermen, townspeople, artists, school groups, the Cape Cod National Seashore and Center for Coastal Studies staff, and others were invited to attend informational sessions at the Center’s Marine Lab to learn about the project and how to participate. Local lobstermen aided in efforts to remove gear from the seafloor and developed best management practices for handling waste aboard fishing vessels. By engaging the community and sharing tools for prevention, the Center for Coastal Studies provided a proactive approach to reducing the amount of derelict fishing gear on Massachusetts’ coastline and waterways in the future.